Aggressive, Ethical Representation
For Businesses And Individuals

Attorney William W. Johnston
  • Partner

Practice Areas

  • Criminal Defense
  • Defamation and Privacy
  • Title IX Litigation
  • Unsolved/Cold Cases
  • White Collar Crimes
  • Fraud Investigations


More than 35 years of practice in federal and state courts. In excess of 250 jury trials, more than 5,000 cases and matters handled.

Former Supervisory Federal Prosecutor for the United States Justice Department who also served as an Assistant District Attorney in Texas. Bill was a Captain in the U.S. Army's JAG Corps. Has handled many nationally prominent cases, including the Branch Davidian Cult case. Johnston or stories about him and his cases have been on the cover of Texas Monthly magazine 4 times - 6 Texas Monthly articles have been published about his work. Cases handled have been portrayed in movies, books, and several national television shows including "48 Hours," "20/20," "Dateline," and many others. Many of Johnston's cases have been the subject of the popular podcast, "True Crime Reporter" which Johnston co-hosts. Once in private practice, Johnston continued to remain involved in significant cases and trials, including his private pursuit of a Baptist Preacher who killed his wife. This case was the subject of the book, "Deadly Little Secrets." Has tried hundreds of jury trials in state and federal courts.


In September, 2022, William Johnston was named one of the top 100 lawyers in the United States in the practice of criminal law.

The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers | The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers

Representative Cases

  • United States v. Branch, et al (The Branch Davidian Cult case). , Two-month long jury trial in San Antonio, Texas. 8 of 11 defendants were convicted of crimes related to the killing of 4 ATF agents and attempted murder of agents of the FBI during the federal raid and stand-off near Waco, Texas.
  • United States v. Pierson , Federal mail bombing case included the first federal prosecution in the United States under the Violence Against Women Act. The defendant was convicted by a federal jury and received a 38 year federal prison sentence.
  • United States v. Laws, “Car-jacking” resulting in death of elderly Texas man. Case involved the first federal jury trial in the United States in which mitochondrial DNA was used in evidence against a defendant. FBI lab DNA Branch Chief Mark Wilson suggested the novel use of this sort of non-nuclear DNA in trial. Defendant was convicted and received a life sentence in federal prison.
  • United States v. McDuff (Kenneth McDuff serial killer case), Sought and obtained a warrant for serial killer Kenneth McDuff and worked on 6 week manhunt for the killer. McDuff had killed 3 teenagers in Ft. Worth, Texas in the late 1960’s and received death penalty. He was released from prison in the 1990’s and began to kill again. Directed investigation into the reasons behind killer’s release. The investigation revealed improper dealings by the Chairman of the Texas Parole Board. Johnston successfully prosecuted the Chairman, Dr. James Granberry.
  • United States v. Urick and Young, This federal murder-for-hire case centered on an individual named Sammy Leldon Urick, who abducted, tortured, and murdered a man from Waco, Texas. The investigation revealed that Urick had also been a part of an international espionage network involving two CIA Officers who had been corrupted by Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi. These two agents, Frank Terpil and Edmund Wilson, had been assisted by Urick after they provided large quantities of plastic explosives to Libya. These explosives were later used in international terrorism. The two fled. One was in U.S. prison, the other fled to Cuba. Urick was convicted of the offense of foreign travel in aid of murder-for-hire and received a life sentence.
  • International Narcotics Investigations , Was one of the few Assistant U.S. Attorneys to work in Mexico on narcotics investigations. Cases included the investigation of a Mexican attorney who brokered the smuggling of some 20 tons of cocaine from Columbia to Northern Mexico. The case involved corrupt Mexican federal police officers who off-loaded much of the cocaine.
  • Jane Doe(s) v. Baylor University, From 2015-2018 represented, along with John Clune and Chris Ford of Hutchison, Black and Cook – Boulder, Colorado, 5 women who had alleged sexual assault by members of the Baylor University football team. Claims were brought under Title IX. Each case was settled favorably.
  • Bank of America & McClinton v. Atalla, This case involved a wealthy Brazilian family who breached a loan agreement and defrauded the bank and the guarantor regarding collateral. Traveled to Brazil on 3 occasions to work with U.S. Secret Service and Sao Paulo State Police officials to determine the extent of the fraud. Used a federal civil suit in the U.S. to gain jurisdiction and pursue fraud. Favorably settled.
  • In Re Glossop Estate (2018), A will contest case regarding alleged self-dealing and breach of fiduciary duty by executor. Investigation by retired IRS Special Agent working for Johnston revealed misconduct which gave rise to claim. Case settled for well in excess of 10 million dollars.
  • Dulin v. Baker, This action was brought as a wrongful death case to investigate and pursue a suspicious death. Discovered information which proved that Baptist preacher had murdered his wife and staged the crime scene as a suicide. Turned forensic evidence over to District Attorney who prosecuted case and had defendant receive 60 year sentence. (Texas Monthly magazine cover story, March, 2008)


  • Named one of the 20 most “Influential and Interesting” Texans by Texas Monthly magazine
  • Selected as one of top 5 federal prosecutors in the United States by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
  • Named, along with the Texas Governor, one of “Five Outstanding Young Texans” by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) in 1995.
  • Special Achievement Award and “Outstanding Performance” rating, United States Department of Justice
  • Victim Advocate of the Year, United States Department of Justice, Western District of Texas
  • Recognized in OER (officer efficiency report) rating as being in top 1% of all U. S. Army Captains
  • Commendation from U.S. Under-Secretary of the Treasury Ronald K. Noble for work on investigation and prosecution of Branch Davidian cult case.
  • Commendation from Director of Texas Department of Public Safety


  • Baylor University School of Law, Waco, Texas
  • Texas A & M University

Classes & Seminars

  • Served as Lecturer – United States Naval Justice School, Newport, Rhode Island
  • Served as instructor – Complex Litigation Course, Baylor Law School

Past Positions

  • Associate, Haley & Davis, primary area of practice in medical malpractice defense and government defense, 1984 to 1987
  • Judge Advocate General Corps, United States Army Reserve, HHC III Corps and Ft. Hood, 1991 to 2002
  • Partner, Johnston & Johnston, practice in federal and state court, 2001 to 2013
  • Lecturer, Naval Justice School, United States Navy, Newport, Rhode Island, 2006 to 2006
  • Principal, The Law Office of William W. Johnston, 2014 to 2022